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Audi blesses revised SQ5 with MHEV tech. Image by Audi AG.

Audi blesses revised SQ5 with MHEV tech
Slightly less power for the 2021MY Audi SQ5 TDI SUV, but more ecological goodness as the payoff.
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2021-04-07: First drive: Audi Q5 Sportback

What's all this about?

Audi has updated its SQ5 performance SUV. Having seen the German company flip and flop between its S-model cars being petrols one minute and diesels the next, and vice versa, it might be refreshing to know that the SQ5 is staying as a (superior) TDI for now and isn't reverting to its TFSI status. Therefore, its 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine is retained but, starting with a tiny negative, it has lost some power - a piffling 6hp, to be precise, the peak dropping to a still-healthy 341hp on the facelifted 2021 model year car, but it's a decrease nonetheless. However, the mammoth peak torque of 700Nm remains, performance is the same as before (0-62mph in 5.1 seconds, top speed 155mph limited) and the whole vehicle is now a mild-hybrid (MHEV) with a 48-volt secondary electrical system doing various energy-harvesting and gearbox-coasting tricks to save a bit of fuel, while also running an electrically powered compressor (EPC) of the type first seen on the SQ7.

So why has it lost power? And is that it - some MHEV stuff and not much else?

Hardly. The power loss is most likely to do with the fitment of a couple of SCR catalytic converters in the exhaust system, in order to make the SQ5 meet and indeed easily exceed the required Euro 6d ISC-FCM AP standards for tailpipe emissions. However, Audi's done quite a bit to the engine, although you'll hardly see any of the work. For instance, the 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 unit now has forged steel pistons instead of aluminium items, the intercooler is an indirect water-to-air effort mounted in the V of the cylinders, rather than an air-to-air 'cooler sitting behind the front bumper, and there's a smaller compressor in the turbocharger for faster response times, as well as a better-insulated exhaust manifold to improve fuel efficiency during shorter cold-running periods. Mechanically, the SQ5 still employs an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive, while an optional Sport differential can be fitted to further enhance its kinematics. Furthermore, the standard Sport-spec S suspension with adjustable dampers can be uprated to full adaptive air springs if you'd prefer.

Sounds impressive. And what about the looks?

A subtle makeover but the Singleframe grille at the front looks cleaner, the daytime LED running light signatures are new, the side intakes down in the front bumper have vertical details in them and, around the back, there's a chrome strip added to the lower trim of the Audi. Oh, and look; we mentioned tailpipe nasties earlier, in reference to gases coming out of the exhaust, but now we have actual tailpipes on show. The daft 'fake' trim which used to sit in the rear bumper of the pre-facelift SQ5 has been replaced with what look like proper 'quads', but we fear these might be the same artificial exits seen on the S6 Avant. Time will tell if this is actually the case.

Matt Robinson - 12 Nov 2020

2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.

2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi SQ5 TDI Updated. Image by Audi AG.    - Audi road tests
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